You don’t storm the field for Mike Riley. You don’t take down the goal posts and try to march them through the streets. You don’t hop on your neighbor’s Silverado and Coyote Ugly up and down the bed.
Beating Nebraska shouldn’t feel like beating the Sacramento Kings.
It should feel the way Theseus felt when he slew the Minotaur. It should feel like Roy Hobbs swinging Wonderboy. It should feel like you knocked the world off its axis for a few hours. It should feel 10 feet tall.
It should feel like a picture that will hang forever in your man cave as if it made your season.
“I think them being good will be great for the conference,” former Iowa defensive back Jordan Bernstine said of the Cornhuskers’ football program.
“Because, if nothing else, it’s going to make Iowa work hard and make Iowa a better team.”
See, a rising tide in Lincoln lifts all boats, the ones in Iowa City included. Yes, Hawkeyes fans enjoy kicking the snot out of the Big Red when they’re down, and 40-10 and 56-14 thrashings the last two Black Fridays was catharsis delivered by crowbar.
But what’s true of Michigan is true of Nebraska, too. As much as the neighbors get a rise out of watching a blueblood stumble around the front yard on the spiral to rock bottom, when the Huskers are better, the West is better. Hell, the league is better.
Which is why Matt Dole, a Hawkeyes fan in Winterset, Iowa, roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes east of Memorial Stadium and 2 hours and 20 minutes west of Kinnick Stadium, is kind of glad that Scott Frost turned up to right the Big Red ship.
“I thought they should have hired him last time [after the 2014 season],” Dole said of the new Nebraska football coach.
“I think he was on that short list. They should have done it the last time … because he’s a young guy, and I think kids really relate to him.”
One of Dole’s closest pals in town is Roger Benes, a Big Red lifer for more than 40 years stuck smack dab in the heart of Hawkeyes country.
“[He’s] one of my best friends, except during football season,” Benes laughed. “We’re seasonal friends.”
Except those seasonal friends never seem to shut up. Especially where Black Friday Massacres are concerned.
“I would think they’d be terrified [of Frost],” Benes said. “Yeah, so far they’ve kicked our butts. I think that’s coming to an end, I’m pretty sure.
“I would think that, the Iowa fans I talk to, they’re very respectful of Scott Frost, the ones that I know. And watching the spring game, they’re like, ‘That Adrian Martinez is a stud, he’s going to kick our butts pretty soon.’”
Respect Frost? Sure.
“I don’t think so,” Dole chuckled. “I think it’s going to be good for their recruiting. But Iowa fans don’t care about that.”
‘I would think they’d be terrified.’
— Nebraska fan Roger Benes on what Iowa faithful think of Scott Frost
They do care about finishing what 2015 started, about dance partners that move the national needle other than the Big Ten East’s gruesome foursome of Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State.
Of the East’s biggest sticks, the Hawkeyes see only one — an Oct. 27 visit to Penn State — this fall; two (at Michigan, vs. Penn State) in 2019; three (vs. Michigan State, at Ohio State, at Penn State) in 2020; then one again (vs. Penn State) in 2021.
They care about relevance. Over the last seven years, Nebraska and Iowa have never met while both teams were ranked among the Associated Press top 25. And it’s probably only a matter of time before Frost starts holding up his end of the deal, a giant finally shaken out of its slumber.
“I think it’ll be good, just because that rivalry is just building,” offered Bernstine, who racked up 13 tackles against the Big Red as a senior in 2011.
“For a long time, Iowa didn’t play Nebraska, and then we started back playing them. And once we started back playing them, for both teams — it’s at the end of the season, the game means something. And you just really want to go out and win that game, just so you don’t have to hear Nebraska fans.”
Even for seasonal friends, one-sided hammerings get old in a hurry. It should feel less like shaking your head. And more like shaking your booty.